9,731 PRISONERS RELEASED AMIDST CORONA THREATS

The Supreme Court has ordered the release of some 9,731 convicted and detention prisoners out of an estimated 10,000 prisoners in metro Manila alone,   amidst fears of the spread of corona virus that may surge the death rate which is not good for the country.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Mario Victor Leonen told journalists on Saturday as he announced that 9,731 inmates had been released in order to halt the spread of corona virus in metro  manila  that my surge the death rate.

More than 450 jails all over the country,  currently hold some 136,000 inmates, according to government data, and health experts are warning that the situation is a ticking time-bomb.

We issue this call for the early release of prisoners especially detention prisoners,  those awaiting trial or bail,  and charged with non-violent offences as well as the sick and elderly.—they should now be released, but properly document for tracing, and should inform jail authorities their addresses for random checking.

As of Saturday may 2,  the Philippines has recorded 8,928 coronavirus cases and 603 deaths.

Gov Degamo here has been given word from the Supreme court to do the same in the 5 cities of Dumaguete, Tanjay, Bais,  Bayawan and Canlaon cities,  and town jails of negros oriental.

The move followed a directive issued by the Supreme Court to lower courts including Negros Oriental provincial, city and municipal jails,  to release those awaiting trial in prison simply  because they could not afford bail.

Also among those who were ordered released were prisoners sentenced to jail for six months or below, as well as those  qualified elderly and ailing prisoners. They were released between March 17 to April 29, according to news reports.

Physical distancing is all but impossible in the country’s prison system, including here in Bajumpandan city jail and the capitol provincial jail,  where cells are sometimes filled to  many  times their capacity due to inadequate infrastructure and a slow-moving and  yet,  overburdened judicial system.

Outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been reported at some of the most overcrowded jails in the Philippines, affecting both inmates and staff.

In a quick survey the department of health here had denied any outbreak of the corona virus in any of our city or provincial nor municipal jails.  This has yet to be confirmed by their respective jail wardens  who could authenticate the figures.

But among those that have reported outbreaks are  the Quezon City Jail  and in the capital, Manila, a facility so crowded that inmates take turns sleeping on staircases and open-air basketball courts.

The worst outbreaks so far are at two prisons in Cebu city  where two city jails have announced a combined 348 infections among more than 8,000 inmates as of Friday.

Prison overcrowding has become an even greater problem since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a drug crackdown in 2016 that has seen thousands of drug suspects   sent to prison.